The “that’s right” sign off was the first and probably last ping of missing Twitter I’ve felt. Great interview. Thanks for reposting

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I agree with James that the welfare state isn't inherently socialist. I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but I, a tech bro, can argue for a generous welfare state from a tech bro's perspective.

If you want to maximize innovation, dynamism, and risk-taking in the economy, it would be both good and efficient for the government to absorb a lot of the tail risk. The government can guarantee people some level of basic food, water, shelter, and health care, which would free them up to do what they do best. Sort of like "basic needs as a service."

These services also have to be high enough in quality that depending on them isn't seen as unacceptable. For that reason, it would help if they were universal and broadly used rather than strictly means-tested.

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I mostly agree with you, but I also think that you're not really describing Medlock-ism. You're describing welfare as a means to an end - a way to maximize innovation, to get more dynamism and growth in the economy, to ensure that each person has a chance to acquire human capital and contribute to society as much as they can. I agree with this assessment - it's why the welfare state is important!

Medlock, on the other hand says:

"I think there's a good case to be made for top marginal rates on the right hand slope of the laffer curve, as a way of compressing the income distribution...I'd like to see public spending increase by 10-15% of GDP."

While Medlock is a very informed guy, I think these quotes demonstrate how he sees (and I don't think he'd disagree with this assessment!) welfare as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. For Medlock, the social programs are the end goal - whereas for you and I, they're just stepping stones to the other things.

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Yeah, that bit about top marginal tax rates being "on the right hand slope of the laffer curve, as a way of compressing the income distribution" is something I would strongly disagree with.

To your point, I think Medlock wants to optimize for a more egalitarian society even if that means total output is lower. I disagree with that because I think that wealthier societies create a bunch of technology that you can't buy at any price in a less advanced society, especially over the long run.

With that said, the fact that people with different aims can agree on concrete policy proposals bodes is heartening.

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Right. The (typically libertarian) tech bro definition of "freedom" is cramped and constrained. Living in a polity where the basics necessary for a productive life (education, healthcare, shelter, sustenance, transportation) are largely guaranteed uh, *enhances* freedom. Right?

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That's right.

The most radical aspect of Medlock Thought is tax positivity. It sounds like pure lunacy as someone who remembers the '80s and '90s. Even liberals just believed that the IRS was trying to screw you and that government wasted taxpayer dollars.

It's was such a breath of fresh air to hear a rational economic case that it's ok to not feel guilty about having a welfare state.

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It's a little scary how much Medlock's views are in sync with my own, based on this interview. Pretty much a carbon copy. The main exception being: I don't use "socialist" as a self-descriptive. To me that implies large-scale state ownership of the means of production, which is something I oppose.

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The "higher taxes are good" thing is interesting, but the fastest and most effective way to raise people's real spending power right now is likely with land-use reform and liberalization: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/mac.20170388.

Land-use liberalization is the low-hanging fruit. Get to it, and then discuss the rest of the issues; so much effective value is locked up by land restrictions. And those restrictions affect almost everything else, including Medlock's desire to lower poverty: https://www.worksinprogress.co/issue/the-housing-theory-of-everything/

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>Land-use liberalization is the low-hanging fruit.<

Agreed. This would be a game-changer. I'd like to see a Nordic-ized tax/transfer system in the United States AND radical land-use deregulation.

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Very inspirational on many levels including what you can learn if you learn for the purpose of arguing instead of maintaining ideological good standing with the assumption always in the background that everything you know is wrong.

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Still lots of room left for Janet Yellen to put her foot in her mouth and trigger a run on the dollar. 😅

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If you were a dollar, where would you run to? :)

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I would run to a rancher and turn myself into a head of beef in the freezer.

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I meant if you were a typical dollar of the trillions outstanding.

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Probably get in touch with a bunch of like-minded dollars about how we were abused by central banks for our purchasing power, and they never really cared about us, unlike people who actually WORK for their dollars.

Then I’d start training. There’d be a Rocky montage in the background.

And when the next financial crisis hit, I’d run for the safety of the nearest Bitcoin shelter.

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Oh, the NEXT crisis. Not the one Yellen is going to provoke by saying something naughty? :)

OK. I'll stop trying to be cute and just say what I think.

I do not think a run on the dollar is possible. Even if people substantially raised their inflation expectations (presently very firmly anchored at or slightly below the Fed's target rate) and people started trying to buy assets (beef or bitcoin) they could not do it in the aggregate w/o the Fed's cooperation.

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Are you referring to operation choke point 2.0? Ie, the Federal government and the Fed unbanking crypto companies? Eh, was always going to happen. Good luck stopping P2P though. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Not to mention that it’s absolutely targeting one industry. And nationalizing crypto assets. This is some real banana republic shit.

To be honest, I never really know what to expect from people anymore. There are so many people, and even though the vast majority are fine upstanding people, others straight up gaslight.

So it’s unclear whether people--like you-- would admit we have a real crisis on our hands. And it’s unclear if they want to admit any level of culpability of our own government.

I can’t lose faith, in humankind. Not by default. That’s not a world I want.

But how do I set the right example? How do I correct the egregious lies? Where do I start?

The world is Orwellian, in many ways, to me. Ostensibly well-meaning people are acting like psychopaths against all disagreement.

As much as I disagree with most of the content here, I get the sense of good people trying to solve problems in ways they believe they know how. Well-intentioned statists, by and large.

I read Noah to understand this cohort. And to be honest, it is difficult. I have frequently questioned intentions. But I nevertheless try to keep the faith, and be honest, forthright, and helpful in my commentary.

The world has so much to learn, and much will be learned the hard way.

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